Every once in a while, we see spikes in prices or volume of sales in particular comics and wonder why. Let’s investigate what could be driving the recent interest in Superman #261.

What’s Going On?

At a time when most comics have been dropping in value, Superman #261 has been shooting up in price, particularly in the high grades. A 9.8 graded copy sold in the May 2022 Heritage auction for $1,110. The previous high was $308, set in a June 2020 eBay auction.

That’s a 260% increase in value! And we’re seeing a similar trend in the 9.2 grade based on a $550 eBay sale on April 19 that saw a 182% increase in value.

When did this trend start? From what we’re able to determine, it all began in the midst of the 2021 boom with the sale of an 8.5 graded copy in an eBay sale for a slashed $350 in August 2021. Prior to that point, the highest price paid in any grade was $308 for a 9.8 in June 2020.

Perhaps it was the gap in sales. It had been eight months in August 2021 since the sale of a graded copy, and it had been seven years since there had been a gap that long between sales of Superman #261.

Whatever the reason, other grades soon followed. Besides the aforementioned 9.8 selling in May 2022, a 9.4 pedigree copy from the John G. Fantucchio collection sold for a slashed $749 and a 9.6 graded copy sold in a March 20 fixed price eBay sale for $800, marking a phenomenal 540% gain in this grade!

So, what is driving these tremendous gains for this comic?

Is It the Cover?

The cover itself depicts Star Sapphire commanding Superman, who is on his knees, to kiss her boot. In a hobby where covers with bondage and “headlights” attract top dollar, is it surprising that collectors would gravitate toward a dominatrix cover?

I think it’s safe to say that the subject of the cover has something to do with recent price gains.

Is It the Artist?

The cover itself was penciled and inked by Nick Cardy. Cardy is a member of the Eisner Hall of Fame and is well-regarded for his work on Aquaman and Teen Titans. Likely one of his most well-known covers is the one for Teen Titans #23.

However, his work is virtually unknown to today’s collectors, so it’s doubtful that his cover of Superman #261 is what’s causing people to notice this comic.

Nor is it likely the interior artist, Curt Swan. Also an Eisner Hall-of-Famer, Swan was the definitive Superman artist of the 1950s and 1960s. Love him or hate him, Swan’s work – in and of itself – has never been known to command higher prices in the comics-collecting hobby.

Is It DCU Spec?

Star Sapphire is commonly regarded as a Green Lantern villain. While there was a Golden Age Star Sapphire who first appeared in All-Flash #32, the character only made two subsequent appearances and then disappeared. The Star Sapphire depicted on the cover of Superman #261 is Carol Ferris, who first appeared in Showcase #22, a comic that also features the first appearance of Hal Jordan as the Silver Age Green Lantern.

She becomes Star Sapphire in Green Lantern #16. While there have been no rumors regarding Star Sapphire appearing in the Lanterns series, you can bet that collectors will gravitate toward Green Lantern #16 as a spec book long before they’ll ever turn to Superman #261.

Final Analysis

It’s the cover subject. Collectors love covers like this. The larger question isn’t why this issue has suddenly caught the attention of collectors but, rather, why it languished in obscurity for so long? That likely has everything to do with the fact that it’s a Superman comic.

For a multitude of reasons – early issues way beyond the means for even moderately affluent collectors, the character being regarded as boring by modern collectors, the sheer number of issues published, etc – Superman hasn’t been a huge favorite of collectors for a long time.

It took until the recent boom for people to notice this issue and, now that it’s been discovered, I wouldn’t anticipate prices dropping any time soon.

What do you think is driving the recent price gains for Superman #261? Let us know below.

*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.